Sen. Mark Udall concedes that far-reaching filibuster reform unlikely

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Filibuster reform is not likely to come to the Senate. At least not the substantial reform proposed by Democratic senators that would curtail the practice of blocking legislation by denying the 60 votes needed for a cloture vote to proceed with debate.

Following the November midterm elections, Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkeley or Oregon announced their intention to introduce substantial filibuster reform. Their proposal is intended to force senators opposed to a bill to actually retain the floor in order to prevent debate on a bill.

The reform would need to receive 51 votes on the first day of the Senate’s new session. Although senators have been inaugurated, the Senate’s first “official” day in session has not yet occurred.

A watered-down version of the Udall-Merkeley proposal is, in the meantime, being negotiated between New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall said Tuesday, “the filibuster is not going go be rolled back quite as some Democrats were asking but that you are going to look towards comity as way to break down the way the Senate works.”

According to Politico, the less dramatic reform likely to be enacted would limit wasted time in the Senate through several changes, including exempting some executive appointees from confirmation, making anonymous “blocks” on legislation more difficult, and eliminating the forced-reading of legislation that has already been publicly disseminated.